Monday, November 16, 2015

Lobby Watch: Formula One: Runnin' on Empty
After a brutal year for Austin's troubled Formula One franchise, state and local officials in Austin must wean F1 from the public teat or subsidize the track's wealthy owners with even more millions of tax dollars. If Austin's latest F1 race was ruined by a downpour and a competing race in Mexico are Texas taxpayers to blame? 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Chief Justice Hecht Beats His $29,000 Ethics Fine Hecht negotiated a settlement with the Texas Ethics Commission over his 2008, $29,000 fine for excepting and failing to report over $100,000 in donated legal services.  TPJ director Craig McDonald commented, "Hecht's fine is 7 years late and $28,000 short."

Last October, TPJ filed suit to require the Attorney General to pursue Hecht's lingering fine.  Details on TPJ's filing are here.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Lobby Watch: Perry Promotes Secretive Contractor to his Dark-Money Funder

Rick Perry is promoting GovWhiz, a secretive government contract company, to Perry-appointed Lottery Commission Chair Winston Krause. Krause founded a secretive non-profit that spent at least $1.3 million pushing Perry's presidency. If GovWhiz bankrolled Krause's pro-Perry Americans for Economic Freedom, nobody needs to inform the public about that conflict.

Recent Texas contracting reforms did little to assure transparency, as Texas' sleazy revolving door spins freely in the dark.
Read about the GovWhiz Biz as usual in Lobby Watch.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Lobby Watch: RRC won't rattle its benefactors

The Texas Railroad Commission recently released a preliminary study concluding that an ExxonMobil subsidiary’s fracking activity probably did not cause seismic jitters that rattled the town of Azle in 2013.  If fracking doesn’t cause earthquakes can $4.9 million in campaign contributions turn public officials into lap dogs?
Learn the science behind campaign contributions in Lobby Watch.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

On Ken Paxton arraignment

"Texas’s top lawman is an admitted lawbreaker. Attorney General Ken Paxton has engaged in fraud and outright deception to personally profit at the expense of others. Paxton will be dogged by a cloud of corruption and felony charges into the foreseeable future. Paxton must step aside now to preserve dignity and trust in the Office of Attorney General. The only ethical path for Ken Paxton is resignation. The state's highest law enforcement officer must be held to the highest standards. - Craig McDonald, director, Texans for Public Justice.”

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Paxton Indictments: Background & Timeline


TPJ has prepared a background memo and timeline on the Paxton indictments.

View the Paxton backgrounder.


Monday, August 10, 2015

NY Times & Houston Chronicle profile TPJ

The felony indictment of AG Ken Paxton has prompted the NY Times and the Houston Chronicle to publish profiles on TPJ's work. 

NY Times: Texas Watchdog Group Calls Another Political Titan to Account 


McKINNEY, Tex. — When Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas was booked at the county jail here Monday on felony fraud charges, he joined some pretty high-powered company, including Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader, and former Gov. Rick Perry, as powerful Texas officials indicted while in office over the last decade.

The three had something else in common: a former Michigan community organizer named Craig McDonald. The cases leading to the indictments, Mr. DeLay’s in 2005 and Mr. Perry’s in 2014, started with the low-budget, nonprofit government watchdog group Mr. McDonald runs out of a basement office in Austin, with 30-year-old furniture and few frills. (Read more.)

Watchdog makes big waves with small resources 
 By Peggy Fikac August 9, 2015

AUSTIN — Attorney General Ken Paxton and former Gov. Rick Perry may have a long legal slog ahead as they battle their indictments. But Craig McDonald, whose watchdog group filed the criminal complaints that spurred both cases, isn’t saying where he thinks their road should end. The job he sees for himself with regard to their cases was all but over when the indictments were delivered. Read the full profile.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Statement on AG Ken Paxton criminal investigation

Craig McDonald Statement
on Criminal Investigation of Texas AG Ken Paxton

"Texans need to know if the state's top law enforcement officer committed serious crimes. No public official--no matter how powerful--is above the law. The integrity of the legal system is at stake.

For months Attorney General Paxton has suggested that his admitted securities law violations merit nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Now a special prosecutor says that he will present a grand jury with evidence that Paxton's alleged securities fraud constitute a first-degree felony. It's time to determine in a court of law if Attorney General Paxton violated the very state laws that he is supposed to uphold and defend."

Last July Texans for Public Justice filed a formal complaint with the Travis County District Attorney, seeking to determine if there was evidence to charge Ken Paxton with state securities law violations. That district attorney forwarded the complaint to Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis, where the alleged crimes occurred. Willis, a longtime friend and business partner of Paxton, recused himself, leading to the appointment of the special prosecutors who now are preparing to present their findings to grand jury.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Lobby Watch: Pitts Hits Lobby with $500,000

Four 2013 lawmakers collected up to $675,000 to lobby their old colleagues this session. Half of that money went to ex-Appropriations Chair Jim Pitts, whose clients include a strip-club trade group. Pitts entered the lobby with almost $500,000 leftover in his war chest--money that he can hand out to his lobby targets. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Perry Indictment Fact-Sheet

A two-count felony indictment continues to saddle ex-Gov. Rick Perry as he announces his second bid for the White House.  Perry has dismissed the indictment as a ‘partisan witch hunt.’  If Perry’s indictment is a partisan witch hunt, then it is one of his own party’s making.  TPJ has the facts!

Read TPJ's fact-sheet and timeline.